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This blog contains posts from the Education & Youth impact area at FSG.
Posted by: Jeff Kutash on 10/10/2012

I first visited the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), the southernmost area of Texas along the US/Mexico border, in April 2010 on a tour arranged by Greater Texas Foundation.During that visit, I met a remarkable young woman named “Luz.” She was the daughter of Hispanic immigrants, and every year, her parents pulled her out of school months early so that she could pick produce with them as a migrant worker. While her peers were in school, Luz was working 14-hour days, carrying a plastic bag to go to the bathroom in so that she didn’t have to stop picking. At fifteen, she told her parents that her education was too important, and that she wouldn’t be going with them anymore, at which point they basically disowned her. She “couch-surfed” for several years on her own and continued to work 14-hour days – only this time on her school work.  Upon graduating from high school, Luz received a full scholarship to the University of Texas at Brownsville, and went on to get a full scholarship to dental school. Hers is a story of grit, determination, and desire – a story of success. However, that success was against great odds. As she told her story, I kept thinking over and over to myself that it just shouldn’t be that hard, that we have an obligation to make it easier for young people in the RGV to attend and complete college.

Posted by: Jeff Kutash on 5/9/2012

Helping the Kid with the Giant Hands Learn
My two oldest kids started kindergarten this year and my third is in pre-school. So while I’ve worked in public education reform for two decades, now it’s gotten personal. I want my kids to be in the best possible schools. And when I look at the public school options out there, I’m not optimistic. All kids deserve great schools, inspiring schools, transformative schools. But do we have them today? If not, what would they look like? So that’s the topic of this two-part blog. What is the school of the future?

Posted by: Jeff Kutash on 2/8/2011

“If you love bungee jumping, you’re the middle school type.” So starts Peter Meyer’s article,The Middle School Mess, in the winter 2011 edition of Education Next. I read that line and was immediately transported back to my time teaching middle school math in the South Bronx in the early 1990s. Kids with raging hormones, barely in control of their growing bodies, emotions swinging wildly from joyful exuberance to blazing anger to intense sadness. And me, 22-years-old, trying to teach them fractions, decimals and algebra. Fun times. The article goes on to cite research on whether middle schools can be successful. Or, as Cheri Pierson Yecke posits in her article, Mayhem in the Middle, that middle schools are “where academic performance goes to die”.

So should we just bite the bullet and eliminate middle schools?

Posted by: Jeff Kutash on 12/13/2010

Gabriel, my preschool-aged son, just brought home his very first piece of art in which you can actually tell what he was trying to draw. A gun. Barrel, trigger, grip - yep, definitely a gun. My wife showed it to me after he had gone to bed, wondering whether we should be worried. I asked her, “What did Gabriel say when you asked him why he drew it?” “Ooh,” she replied, “I didn’t think to ask him.” So today, I want to focus on the topic of the student voice.

Posted by: Jeff Kutash on 11/18/2010

This post marks the launch of FSG’s education and youth blog. As a nonprofit research and consulting firm, we are fortunate to work with foundations, corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies on a broad range of education and youth focused issues ranging from early childhood to college graduation. Based on that breadth of experience, we thought it might be helpful to regularly share our perspectives on trends and approaches we see in the field. In each post we will share effective practices we hope will spread (The Good), challenges that need to be overcome (The Bad), and innovative or exciting ideas with transformative potential (The Bold). Please feel free to share with us your own perspective on the good, the bad, and the bold.

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